Dog Training With A Clicker

The Resource for Everything About Dogs


Dog Training With A Clicker

by Michael Russell



A dog training method called clicker training has become popular over the last several years. Clicker training differs in several ways from standard dog training. Dogs are not deprived of food. Food is only used for primary reinforcement. Punishment and negative reinforcement are avoided as much as possible in clicker training. Also, the training sessions are brief. The practice sessions should last less than five minutes each. Clicker trainers feel that dogs will learn more over several short sessions than over one long session that might get tedious and cause the dog to lose interest. Studies have also shown that establishing reliable behaviors with clicker training requires significantly less time than with standard dog training. Another difference is the use of a clicker as a behavior marker.

The click trainer clicks when the dog performs a certain action such as sitting. After the click, the trainer gives the dog a reward. Eventually, the dog will associate the click with the reward. The reward can be food such as hot dogs or roast beef, petting, playing with a tennis ball, or anything else your dog may enjoy. If you want to use a food reward, you must make sure that you use small pieces of food because you do not want your dog to be preoccupied with eating and forget about the clicker dog training. Also make sure that your dog's meals do not precede a clicker training session otherwise the food rewards will not work. It is important to remember that you must click during and not after the desired action. When the reward is given is not crucial.

A click is more powerful for training than a spoken word because it is a unique sound that signifies that a reward is coming. It can provide a precisely timed signal to mark good behavior at the exact moment that it occurs. This will allow the dog to know exactly what it was doing. Words can be spoken in different ways and express different emotions each time but the sound of a click never varies. Dogs and other pets have problems telling the differences among the many words that they hear everyday but they do not have problems determining the meaning of a click.

If you want to train your dog to come running to you when called, do not wait until the dog is actually running to you before you click and reward the dog. You should click and reward the dog even if it only takes a few steps in your direction. After the dog has demonstrated that it can repeatedly perform this action, you can try to coax your dog into walking a little closer to you before you click and reward it. You should allow your dog to do everything on its own without pushing or pulling it. You can also use click dog training to cure your dog of inappropriate behavior. Instead of berating your dog when it does something inappropriate such as relieving itself on your carpet, you can click and reward the dog when it acts appropriately.

When your dog reaches a point where it will spontaneously show you the behavior that earns it a click and a reward, the clicker trainer should teach the dog a cue. The cue can be a hand signal or a word. To teach the dog the cue, the trainer will say or signal the cue before the dog repeats the behavior. If the behavior occurs during or after the cue, then a click and reward is given. If the dog does the behavior without the cue, no click is given. If the dog does not perform the behavior after the cue is given, then maybe the reward needs to be changed or the cue needs to be relearned in an environment with less distractions. Also, while clicker dog training, do not verbally or physically abuse the dog even if it is not performing as it should. This may cause the dog to lose confidence in you and the clicker training.

The clicker and rewards can be put away once the behavior follows the cue on a consistent basis. The behavior can be maintained by replacing the expensive rewards with a less costly reward such as a pat on the head. Only bring out the clicker and rewards to train your dog to learn a new behavior or relearn an old behavior.

Since clicker training does not rely on punishment or negative reinforcement to get results, it is the only method of dog training that can be safely and effectively used with puppies that are weeks old. At this point, clicker training is not a universally practiced dog training method but more trainers are using clicker training to teach basic obedience and other classes.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dog Training

Michael Russell - EzineArticles Expert Author



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